Responding to an outbreak of a novel coronavirus [agent of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)] in December 2019, China banned travel to and from Wuhan city on 23 January 2020 and implemented a national emergency response. We investigated the spread and control of COVID-19 using a data set that included case reports, human movement, and public health interventions. The Wuhan shutdown was associated with the delayed arrival of COVID-19 in other cities by 2.91 days. Cities that implemented control measures preemptively reported fewer cases on average (13.0) in the first week of their outbreaks compared with cities that started control later (20.6). Suspending intracity public transport, closing entertainment venues, and banning public gatherings were associated with reductions in case incidence. The national emergency response appears to have delayed the growth and limited the size of the COVID-19 epidemic in China, averting hundreds of thousands of cases by 19 February (day 50).
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